Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Our summer adventure

We had such an incredible adventure this summer. In June, just one week after school let out, we flew to Vegas, rented an RV and explored a number of National Parks. 

 First we stopped at Zion National Park and stayed at Zion Canyon Campground.
 We spent two days in Zion and hiked the Emerald Pools, Pa'rus and Riverwalk trails.
 The Riverwalk leads to the popular Narrows Trail, which Alan and Jonny were adventurous enough to venture into. The water was SO cold, so Lilly and I didn't venture in. You can rent waterproof shoes, but we didn't plan ahead enough to think of that. Alan also hiked Angel's Landing, which is a very strenuous 4-5 hour hike with steep drop-offs and amazing views. Thank goodness SOMEBODY had to stay with the kids, or he might have talked me into going with him.
After leaving Zion, we stopped at Kolob Canyon and hiked the Timber Creek trail. Then we drove to Cedar Breaks (10,000 ft), fixed lunch in the RV, and enjoyed the views. The kids even found June! It was almost too much for my southern kids to handle.
Then we drove to Bryce Canyon, where we stayed for 3 nights. 
If we had it to do again, we would have stayed 3 nights in Zion and 2 in Bryce.
Bryce was beautiful, but smaller than Zion. We hiked the Navajo Loop/Queen's Garden trail, and it was much more strenuous than we thought it would be. 3 of us were very crabby. 
Apparently, we hiked the wrong direction. 

The next day we hiked the Rim from Bryce Point to the Lodge, where we ate lunch. It was all downhill so we were much happier hikers that day. We left Bryce Canyon and drove to Moab, Utah, stopping at Capitol Reef for lunch. We stayed at the Moab Valley RV Resort, which had a pool and a playground, which kept the kids occupied. We got up early the next morning and drove into Arches National Park. If you want to hike to Delicate Arch, you have to get there early, especially if you're driving an RV because there's limited parking. We arrived at 8am and were happy we didn't hike in the heat of the day. 

 On the way back, we saw these petroglyphs.
 That night we drove to Canyonlands, which is just 30 miles from Arches.
 It's incredible how different Arches and Canyonlands are.
 The park was practically empty late in the day and we went on a very short hike to the Mesa Arch, then drove to Grand View (pictured above). If you're in Moab, be sure to eat at Quesadilla Mobilla. I'm still thinking about how good their quesadillas were.

 After Moab, we drove to Cortez, Colorado, where we rented a car.
 This is the Cortez, Colorado airport. Ticket line on the left, rental car line on the right. There was also a cat in the airport named Mable.
Then we took the RV and the car to Mesa Verde.
 We camped at Morefield Campground, which was the most primitive (in a good way) campground we stayed in. Deer were roaming around the park. 
 At 9pm every night, there was a Ranger Talk at the amphitheater within walking distance of our campsite. On Sunday morning, we attended a church service at the amphitheater.
 The first day we visited the Mesa Verde Museum, Spruce Tree House, Pithouse, Sun Temple, and Far View House/Village.
 On Monday, we went on ranger-led tours of both Cliff Palace and Balcony House.
 At Balcony House, you have to climb a 32 foot ladder to enter.
 If you visit Mesa Verde, be sure to stop at the Visitor's Center to purchase ranger-led tour tickets. It's a 30 minute drive back to the Visitor's Center from Morefield Campground, and another 30 minute drive to the Cliff Dwellings - hence the rental car. 
 Sunset at Mesa Verde
 Our kids really bonded on the trip. Much less fighting than at home.
 After returning the rental car and stocking up on groceries, we headed toward Lake Powell, AZ. We stopped in 4 corners, & stood in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah all at the same time.
 For some reason, I don't have any good photos of Lake Powell. When we were there, we got up bright and early for a slow rafting trip down the Colorado River. It started at Glen Canyon Dam, the second largest dam in the country.
 The weather was perfect until Lake Powell. It was 107 degrees and people can talk all they want about dry heat being preferable to humidity, but I thought it was dreadful. 
 On our way back to Vegas we stopped at Best Friend's Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. My mother and Aunt Jessica have supported this organization for years and we were so impressed, we would like to go back to volunteer some day.
 Horse Sanctuary
 We spent one more night at an RV park in Vegas before returning the RV and flying home. 
Best vacation ever.